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It took six decades, but the members of the Red Cedar Friends Quaker Meeting finally have a place to call their own.
After years of congregating in rented spaces or churches, the Friends are settling into a new meeting house that just opened at 1400 N. Turner St. in Lansing’s Old Town neighborhood.
Susan Waltz, chairwoman of the building committee for the meeting house, said getting a meeting house of their own was a dream people had explored, but it usually never worked out.
“A new committee was started, and we went down the same road as before, thinking it would be too expensive,” Waltz said. “But at a retreat in 2002 we decided we wanted to make an earnest effort to get what we called a ‘home of our own’ in urban Lansing.”
Waltz said the building committee looked at more than 100 properties over the course of three years, and finally decided on a lot on Turner St. in Old Town.
In 2007, the decision to build was made, and a year later the construction began.
Why Old Town? When the committee first began looking for a meeting house, they tried to find an existing building, but couldn’t find anything that fit.
Finally, someone took the committee around properties in and around Old Town.
“We liked the area, and when the particular lot was made available it seemed perfect,” Waltz said. “The zoning was right. Normally an easy place to build a church is out in the countryside somewhere, but we loved the feel of Old Town and wanted to be part of a community, not outside of it.”
For finances, Waltz said the total cost after everything was about $750,000, which doesn’t take into account volunteer labor. It includes the building, the land, testing and other procedures.
Although it is a Quaker Meeting House, don’t be afraid to show up if you aren’t a Quaker. Anyone can come to the worship services, which last about an hour.
“We are open to everyone. We went out of our way to make the building accessible to meet everyone’s needs physically, but we are very open to everybody in the community,” said Waltz.
The Red Cedar Friends Meeting assembles in silence — there is no music or a sermon, but people can rise to speak if they are moved.
“We love to have people come and join us, and people are welcome to try us out,” Waltz said.
From 11 a.m. - 3 p.m on Saturday, May 22, the Red Cedar Friends Meeting will host an open house to celebrate the completion of the meeting house. Everyone is invited to come and look at the space, and see how everything was done.
Waltz said the building is LEEDcertified (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design), meaning many special features of the building meet energy-efficiency standards. This includes natural lighting, native plants and a parking lot that is not paved over but made of porous paving stones that allow water to filter into the ground.
“We also think of the building as an educational project as well,” Waltz said. “People can see it’s actually affordable and realistic to build an environmentally friendly building.”
One of Waltz’s favorite things about the new meeting house is that most of the inside work was done by the volunteer labor of the members of the Red Cedar Friends Meeting. They laid the floors, tiled the bathrooms, painted, laid out the parking lot and more.
“It’s kind of special that practically everybody in our congregation participated in one way or another, including children,” said Waltz. “So as we go on and live in the building, it’s going to be special for a lot of people.”
When the architect designed the meeting house, traditional Quaker meeting house design and inspiration were used. Waltz said the architect tried to make the meeting house blend into the area of Old Town as well.The Quaker Meeting House was completed with the help of volunteers from Red Cedar Friends Meeting. "Its kind of special that practically everybody in our congregation participated in one way or another, including children," says building committee chairwoman Susan Waltz.
Whenever it was feasible, Waltz said, local contractors, local suppliers and local supplies were used. “So another thing we’re pleased with is that we were able to draw in a lot of local resources,” she said.
Red Cedar Friends Quaker Meeting House Open House
11 a.m. - 3 p.m. Saturday, May 22 1400 N. Turner St. (517) 371-1047